Entering the 2015 college football season, the Trojan football team’s secondary appears to be a source of strength for the defense. A much-maligned group last season, especially after losses to Arizona State and UCLA when defensive backs were repeatedly burned, the 2015 secondary looks revamped and reenergized. Led by standout corner Adoree’ Jackson and veteran defensive back Kevon Seymour, this year’s unit will be a tough test for quarterbacks in the pass-happy Pac-12.
“This year, I believe the secondary will be a great strength for us, especially when you have someone like Adoree’ out there who can impact a game quickly,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
Last season, the Trojans’ back four had to withstand the loss of All-Pac-12 cornerback Josh Shaw to suspension as well as All-American safety Su’a Cravens, who was moved to a hybrid linebacker and nickel back position. The loss of these stalwarts left the secondary in flux and susceptible early in the season.
“We had growing pains in the secondary last year as we played a lot of youngsters who got better as the season went on,” Sarkisian said.
Right away, though, Jackson emerged as a shutdown corner, which gave the unit a much-needed boost as the season progressed.
This year, the script is flipped completely. Jackson comes in with one full year under his belt, and if recent practice is any indication, he will cut the field in half for opposing quarterbacks. On the other side is Seymour, a speedy veteran who has wowed coaches thus far in the summer sessions with his aggressiveness and physical play. Seymour, a local product out of Muir High School in Pasadena, has battled through injuries and inconsistent play throughout his tenure, but it looks as if he is finally putting it all together entering his final season as a Trojan.
The two cornerbacks will be buoyed by a plethora of young, talented safeties. Leon McQuay III is back for his junior season, and though he had some issues against UCLA last season, his athleticism and physical presence will earn him some time on the field. He will be part of a platoon to start the season with sophomore John Plattenburg, who impressed late in the season last year and continued his strong debut into the spring and summer sessions. Additionally, redshirt sophomore Chris Hawkins, who recently converted from corner to safety, will also vie for playing time.
The Trojans are both deep and young, as they have three highly touted freshmen who could play right away in the secondary. Prized recruit Iman Marshall is a physical defensive back who has already made waves with his play at cornerback. Additionally, the dynamic duo of freshman safeties Marvell Tell and Ykili Ross looks to be an imposing combination for the next few years.
This depth is a source of pride for the Trojans, who have struggled with injuries in the secondary in years past.